January 13, 2011

Derby Girl

Sometime during my childhood, I remember being told that my Grandmother had been a roller derby girl in her youth. At the time I didn't actually know what roller derby was but was aware that it was something cool, and it added to the mystique that was my Grandmother. She passed away when I was a baby and so everything I knew about her came in the form of stories. How she had sweet talked one of the guys who worked on the set of "Lassie" to give her one of the puppies (the one with a crooked noes, but still, Lassie's puppy) for her sons, how Raymond Burr loved her Meatloaf. How, as a child, she and her cousin Harry would wrap pennies in foil and try to pass them off as more valued coins. She chose to join the Royal Air Force at the start of World War Two because their uniform looked best on her. She was a code breaker, part of the landing crew for a famous group of planes, had all the Italian prisoner's of war in the camp she was at in Africa falling a little bit in love with her. So roller derby, whatever it was, was just one more interesting thing about her.

It wasn't really until I saw Whip It, that I really got what exactly Roller Derby was. I had two thoughts while watching it. One was "I can NOT believe my Grandma was doing THAT!" and at the same time "I can TOTALLY see my grandma doing that!"
It seems that after the war an American entrepreneur brought Roller Derby to the UK and recruited my grandmother who was already an avid roller skater and barrel jumper (what!) She was tall, big boned and a natural showman and I imagine also quite fierce on the rink. I wouldn't have wanted to face off with her, that's for sure.

I loved to skate when I was a kid. My daycare center took us two or three times a week during the summer and I loved every minute of it. But I haven't' skated in years. Actually, I think I can even say decades here. But when we drove past the old gymnasium down downtown last weekend to check on the open basketball times and found that it was actually open skating time, I couldn't resist.
Will and Briton decided to play basketball at home (in the freezing wind, crazy people!) so it was just Evie and I heading down to skate. She was surprisingly good for a four year old who had never skated and was wearing skates two sizes too large (I'm on the hunt for some adjustable ones for her) and was cheered on by a group of Derby Girls from our local team who were practicing while we were there.

No, no, this isn't a very long way of telling you that I'm going to join the Derby Dames, I think I'm past my prime there, but I will be getting Evie one of their "Future Derby Dame" shirts, because, you know, I think she just might be.